Town council should buy into big projects: Eli Melky


p2269-market-3By ERWIN CHLANDA
A town council committee chairman says there should be financial investment by local government in projects that enhance the town’s appeal to tourists and locals alike.
This could include sharing the cost for the long-proposed national Indigenous cultural centre, as well as the residential and business complex planned by the council and the Uniting Church in Todd Mall and the current Hartley Street car park, a project that was given a new lease of life in the final Town Council meeting of 2016.
Cr Eli Melky says the council has $30m in reserves and has nearly paid off a $12m loan for the council chambers.
He is heading up the council’s Technical Services Committee whose responsibilities include urban development, infrastructure assets maintenance and development as well as open space development.
The Alice Springs  News Online asked Mayor Damien Ryan on December 30: “Is there money in the council coffers, or borrowing capacity, to pay for projects stimulating the local economy and if so, which ones?”
He replied: “We have responsibilities [for providing services] but don’t have the ability to forward estimate deficits like the other levels of government. The Act doesn’t allow us to do that.”
Responding to the same question Cr Melky said the Act does permit council borrowing as long as it has the consent of the Minister, and council has done so.
He says the only hiccup may be that the current NT Government does not have a Minister for Local Government. No doubt another minister would step in.
Cr Melky says after nine and a half years under Mayor Ryan the town is “no better and no worse” off.
“We need to take the next step now,” says Cr Melky. “We have not progressed. We can’t just keep on doing the same thing any longer.”
He says both major projects have the capacity of attracting tourists. The Uniting Church scheme (google this site for details) would have the effect of bringing people into the CBD, reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.
p2343-Eli-MelkyCr Melky (pictured), who is currently in Hawaii, says he is astonished about the peace and security enjoyed by visitors to that island where tourism makes up 70% of the economy.
“The council can take a leadership approach,” says Mr Melky.
“It’s the view of most elected members that both projects must go ahead. Of course it would require majority support from the community to make the town council a financial partner as well as a driving force.
“I would encourage for this to happen. All projects come with risk.
“Does the town need economic stimulus? Absolutely.”
Commitment by the council would make it easier to find other financial partners, he says.
“The ratepayer can be an investor in making the town more vibrant.”
PHOTO: View into the Uniting Church grounds just off the Mall (during a nigh markets), the possible site of of a new residential and business complex.


  1. Pay for the council building would be a start. Put some footpaths in some of old parts in town. A new Indigenous centre would be a waste or money. They get enough handouts. We need a new four lane highway and a new tunnel at The Gap for rail and road. All the way to airport. Maintain the river. This would be a good start.

  2. Budget airline, Tourism growth and real Law and Order, plus an Indigenous owned and operated Tourist Attraction will boost Alice Springs.
    Private Enterprise will sort business.
    Forget taxing ratepayers.

  3. So Eli wants the council to get its foot in the funding door on big commercial projects.
    Local councils have come a long way from their original fundamental charter of responsibities for roads, rates and rubbish collection.
    The Three Rs that were their original reason for existence in the chain of Australian government are now so passe.
    Local councils have moved on to become stepping stones to political careers, overseas study trips and all the trappings of greatness that go with the public spotlight.
    Let’s hope that the Alice council keeps its focus on the essential services in its local government charter and concentrates on serving the people at the grassroots, rather than chasing the private sector rainbow.

  4. Why do the people with power all turn a blind eye to the crime in Alice Springs? Let’s fix this first.

  5. The council has $30m in reserves.
    Looking forward to a cut in rates or at least zero increase.
    But that’s wishful thinking with our big spending council so rate increase at the cost of inflation please.
    And no more borrowing – the council must learn to live within its (abundant) means.

  6. Are we all really so numb, complacent and in denial to all the issues that are present in Alice Springs for a councillor to make a statement that he can’t believe the safety visitors feel in other tourism locations?
    This would indicate to me that he would focus on the local anti social issues more but it seems the concern of this only goes as far as committing every rate payer to the future prospect of increased rates to pay off commercial developments that should be done by developers.
    How has the town managed to develop so far without this risk to all the ratepayers?
    How did the town get developments like many tourism sites around town, the convention centre for one?
    In regards to these developments, was the land of the Uniting Church gifted to people for use by the people? Shame on those trying to make a quick buck from it. This should stay an open common land area to be used by the people of Alice Springs as it was intended to be.
    For this project to be put out as a drawcard for tourism into Alice Springs is a very worrying statement. Should we all not be concerned if this is how tourism is going to be stimulated in The Centre?
    And for it to be put out as a saviour of the anti-social issue in the Mall, well now we should be really concerned. Don’t know we know this problem won’t be miraculously solved by putting more glass windows in the mall.
    As for the Mayor not having made anything better, he has not made it worse as in the case of a few previous mayors.
    Maybe if he didn’t have to waste time on issues that waste his time and had more support from other councillors he may be able to focus on progress more often.


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